North Sails NEWS


Oyster 47.5 Altair Sports North Cruising Sails For Round-The-World Adventure

In 2016, Ken and Liisa Bacco set sail from Newport, Rhode Island on December 1st during a snow storm onboard their Oyster 47.5 cutter rig, Altair, to meet up with the Oyster World Rally (OWR) in Antigua. Departing Antigua in January of 2017 with the OWR, the Baccos have circumnavigated the globe, making memories and forming new friendships along the way.

“Something we did find out is that 99.9% of the people in the world are wonderful,” remarked Ken. “Wherever we were, people wanted to help us and get to know us. They made a point to come over and say hello, which was encouraging being in places we’d never visited before.”

How did they get the opportunity to take on an adventure like this? “The stars aligned,” said Liisa. “Our kids had left the nest, we were healthy, and it was the best time in our lives to do it.”

Ken and Liisa’s kids would join them from time to time on their stopovers. [From Left]: Ken, daughter Laura, Liisa, and their son Matt.

The Baccos took delivery of their new sails in 2015, and have since logged over 40,000 miles on them. “It’s quite a feat to think our sails have made it tens of thousands of miles around the world with our original suit of North Sails,” said Ken. “And everywhere we’ve gone, we always get comments on our mainsail. People all over the world have told us, ‘your mainsail is gorgeous!’. We couldn’t be happier with our investment.”

Altair’s mainsail is equipped with three reef points. They have a furling genoa, a staysail, and a trysail which runs forward on a track. “Our staysail is so critical,” says Ken. “You’d think wing on wing would be good, but the staysail makes all the difference in the world for stability.” For making pace-off the wind, they trust in their asymmetric spinnaker. They use a KZ Furler and a Future Fibres torsion cable for their A2 which is on the furler. Liisa calls it “their secret weapon.” Having the right set up makes it easy for the duo to sail shorthanded in any condition, and stay safe.

NPL TOUR is built to last, but the Baccos ensure its lifespan by staying on top of maintenance, taking advantage of a few key loft locations around the world.

“Making sure things are in the best shape makes the entire experience run smoothly.” Says Liisa, “We can’t say enough about our relationship with North Sails and the service teams we’ve worked with. Now that we’re full-time cruisers, we know we’ve made the right choice when it comes to sails for our boat.”

From Portsmouth, RI, to Milford, CTAntigua,  and South Africa, Ken and Liisa credit experts Service Manager Eric Wakefield and Sail Expert Tom Castiglione with making their bluewater cruising experience fun and easy. Andrew Dove at North Sails Antigua pitched in to teach the couple everything they needed to know about choosing the right battens, and installing them correctly.

The Bacco family has sailed all over the world, and their quest for adventure is never-ending. They’ve logged stopovers to many areas, including the Caribbean, South Africa, New Zealand, Madagascar, Indonesia, Fiji, Panama, French Polynesia, and many more.

Joining The Oyster World Rally

When visiting the UK, Liisa learned about the Oyster World Rally. This was when the boat was being built. Ken said; “Liisa called me and said we’ve got to do this!” The Oyster World Rally provides a once in a lifetime, non-competitive opportunity for Oyster yacht owners to sail around the world. This adventure around the planet is focused on safety and yacht support combined with stopover points in unique destinations.

The rest is history. “We’ve made so many friends for life joining the Oyster World Rally,” says Ken. “We all take turns organizing trips together, and everyone is fun to sail with. We really enjoy adventuring with this group. They are a fun group and we’ve seen some amazing places together.”

The Baccos dove with sharks four times in Fiji. Ken remarked, “swimming with 15’ tigers and bull sharks was an incredible experience. We were in about 40’ of water, and the divers started chumming. The sharks liked to feel the bubbles from the scuba regulators so you could touch them as they swam overhead. It was crazy.” Liisa reflected on the whole experience a week or so later and said, “we were both like oh my god, that was stupid, I can’t believe we did that!”
“Cape Town is a beautiful, exciting city,” said Liisa. “The V&A Marina is right downtown with Table Mountain in the background. Shopping, restaurants, movie theaters. The Oyster World Rally fleet settled in to explore the city, visit wineries, go on safari and perhaps fly home for the holidays.”
“Winds were up dangerously high when we pulled into Madagascar. We had three reefs in our main and the storm jib up. We made it to the dock safe, and had one hell of a party that night,” said Ken. The couple spent a few days exploring ashore, making friends with some lemurs during their time on the island.
“We were tucked into this tiny cove, and there were tsunami warnings.It was 2:32 in the morning and all of a sudden I felt the boat moving- it was insane. Ken remarked; “People say you don’t notice when there’s an earthquake…well we could absolutely feel it! Locals said they happen everyday, all the time. The Indonesians we encountered were cheerful, kind, helpful, proud of their country and eager to share it with us.”
The Oyster fleet docked in Indonesia. Ray, the owner, threw a party for the Oyster fleet with local food and entertainment. The Baccos celebrated a friend’s birthday who was sailing onboard another Oyster, and with an incoming shipment of fresh food, the fleet was ready to depart to their next stopover. “Little did we know that more earthquakes and a terrible tsunami would hit Indonesia shortly after our departure. It truly is heartbreaking to imagine,” said Liisa.
“Panama was such a wonderful place,” said Liisa. “There were out-rigger canoes, not far from Panama City. We adventured around the San Blas Islands, just off Panama. The people there were incredibly nice. There were perfect white sand beaches, and the locals have kept their culture so intact. It was our first experience on the rally with true indigenous people–it was a beautiful spot,” said Liisa. The Panama Canal was interesting. “By size, the Oyster rally fleet rafted together three-wide and took turns helping each other get through. When the gates opened it was amazing to see the Ocean. It took about two days to get our entire fleet through the Panama Canal. It was such a cool experience,” said Ken.
“We sailed into Manhattan Harbor which was quite the scene. The Statue of Liberty was right there, the city was beautiful and you could see the Freedom Tower. It brought on very emotional feelings for us to be back home again,” said Liisa.

We can’t wait to find out where Ken and Liisa are headed to next. Until then, read more about the Bacco’s never-ending adventures around the world here.

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